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Argentina’s goal illegal, FIFA

By Tony Ubani, in South Africa
Argentina’s goal against Nigeria in their group B encounter last Saturday, should have been disallowed by German referee Wolfgang Stark.

ILLEGAL GOAL ... Chidi Odiah jumps to stop Gabriel Heinze of Argentina's header into the top corner of the net as goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama looks on in a Group B match between Argentina and Nigeria at Ellis Park Stadium on June 12, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Referees' committee says the goal was illegal. Photo by Getty Images

A FIFA post-match analysis ruled that there was a foul in the build-up to Gabriel Heinze’s stunning header, and that Stark should never have allowed the goal.

The FIFA referees’ committee released their findings on Tuesday, as a guide for future judgements in this year’s tournament. And amongst other rulings, they made it clear to referees that they must watch for infractions at corners and free-kicks — specifically attacking players blocking markers, as happened on Saturday.

As Juan Sebastian Veron’s cross floated over Walter, Samuel enveloped Chinedu Obasi and stopped him from moving, thereby giving Heinze all the space he needed to propel the ball home. Stark should have therefore penalised Samuel for obstruction and awarded a free-kick to the Super Eagles — a judgement that could have changed the course of the whole game for Argentina.

Although the ruling comes too late for Nigeria, it has interesting implications for the rest of the tournament; a sign that FIFA will not tolerate the pushing, shoving and holding commonplace on both sides at dead-ball situations, and that in future such offences will be punished with either disallowed goals or penalties in the case of the defence committing an infraction.


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